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City begins cleaning up homeless camps
homeless camp clean up
The City of Turlock initiated clean-up of an illegal homeless encampment Thursday at the private property at 1400 W. Main Street and continued on Friday (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The City of Turlock took their first action after declaring homelessness a local emergency by initiating a clean-up at a homeless encampment on W. Main Street.

The clean-up started Thursday at the private property at 1400 W. Main Street and continued on Friday.

The Turlock Police Department posted a no trespassing notice on March 9 at 1400 W. Main Street that informed the estimated 35 to 40 people camping there that they would have to move by Thursday. When the crews arrived Thursday morning to start the clean-up process, about 15 to 20 people were still at the property, said Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt.

City and Stanislaus County officials visited the encampment four times in March to help people connect with services and provide them with shelter options. One woman opted to take the shelter option and several other people connected with various applicable services, Pitt said.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council voted unanimously to ratify Interim City Manager Gary Hampton’s proclamation of a local emergency.

The City Council also approved spending $498,417 to assist shelter providers with additional costs of operations and to accommodate the increase in people served. The funding also will pay for site clean-up, supplies, service agreements, materials, staffing costs, maintenance and upkeep, and miscellaneous expenses. The funds were approved 4-1, with Councilman Andrew Nosrati casting the lone no vote.

By declaring a local emergency, the City can obtain additional resources, establish an immediate plan and respond quickly to urgent situations.

The local emergency proclamation will last for four months and has an end goal of reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness and setting up encampments around Turlock.

As part of the emergency proclamation, the City of Turlock has requested the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services for an additional 200 shelter beds, some of which will be at We Care and the Turlock Gospel Mission and the rest at an as yet unnamed location.

Concurrent with the implementation of the emergency plan, the City is engaging all of the community stakeholders, service providers and community groups to develop a 36-month plan to address the Unsheltered Homeless and Encampments Crisis beyond the initial emergency response. City staff will be focused on the immediate emergency situation while also planning for the longer-term options and solutions.